How to Babyproof a Fireplace
Who doesn’t love an evening or early morning fire as the temperatures start to drop? Hauling in the wood and getting the fireplace stoked is one of the most exciting parts of fall for many homes. You may also use your fireplace throughout the year for ambiance. Perhaps you’ve used it mostly for romance, but now you have a little one on the way, and you’re seeing that fireplace a bit differently.
How do you make a fireplace safe for newborns? What about toddlers and older children who are more active? You can make a fireplace safe for children of all ages. Best of all, you don’t need to hire a professional to do most of it for you.
Keep reading to learn about many of the most effective options. We’ll start with some general safety guidelines to ensure your fireplace doesn’t present a danger or health risk to your baby. We’ll then get into the fun DIY ideas for babyproofing a fireplace. We also provide practical options if you want to quickly buy products that will babyproof your fireplace without a decorative or crafty touch.
Table of Contents
- 1 FAQ about how to babyproof a fireplace and hearth
- 2 How to Babyproof a Fireplace When Not in Use
- 3 DIY Fireplace Gates
- 4 Make your own fireplace gate
- 5 Ways to Childproof a Fireplace Hearth
- 6 Fireplace Door Locks for Child Safety
- 7 How to babyproof a fireplace with bumpers
- 8 More safety tips
- 9 Have Fun Learning How to Babyproof a Fireplace!
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FAQ about how to babyproof a fireplace and hearth
You can babyproof a fireplace using a variety of DIY methods. If you can afford to hire a babyproofing specialist or perhaps an interior designer with babyproofing experience, that may save you some time. If you want to do it yourself, there are many ways to ensure children of all ages have no access to the fireplace and are protected from sharp edges and hard materials like brick and stone.
It is safe to have a newborn in a home that uses a fireplace provided it is properly installed and well maintained. If you use your fireplace for ambiance or enjoyment only, consider keeping your newborn out of the room while it’s in use. That will prevent your baby from inhaling smoke. If you use the fireplace for warmth, keep the baby as far away from the smoke as possible.
Wood-burning stoves are associated with increased risk of coughing and other respiratory problems for infants. Research has shown that fireplaces aren’t associated with that risk, so you may want to take more precautions if you use a wood stove to heat your home. Keep your baby as far away from the stove as possible, preferably in another room.
Gas fireplaces may seem safer for babies than wood-burning fireplaces, but they still present many of the same dangers. While you won’t have to worry about your baby inhaling smoke, carbon monoxide is still a concern. Sulfur oxide and nitrogen can accumulate in the air as well, so it’s still important to have your fireplace inspected regularly to ensure safety. Vented fireplaces are far healthier because they direct those emissions outdoors.
How to Babyproof a Fireplace When Not in Use
You know how to keep your fireplace safe for your baby when it’s in use. But what about those hard surfaces and sharp edges even when the fireplace isn’t in use? That’s where learning how to babyproof a fireplace comes into play.
Even if you have a newborn who doesn’t move much now, you will soon have a toddler and then an active child who moves all day long. Babyproofing also protects other children who may visit your home for the holidays, play dates, and on other occasions. It may even protect active pets who love to play.
Let’s start off with some practice ways to babyproof your fireplace with simple products you can order online or pick up at a local store today. We’ll then give you some more creative ways to make your fireplace a functional and safe part of your home.
DIY Fireplace Gates and Screens
Fireplace gates and screens are the simplest options for quickly babyproofing any fireplace. You place them around the front of your fireplace, preventing children and pets from reaching the hearth. You keep everyone at a safe distance when the fireplace is in use, but you may also use a gate or screen when it isn’t in use.
Your first option is to purchase a gate or screen that works well with the style and décor of your home. Gates have slats with open spaces in between while a screen provides a mesh material with no open spaces between poles. Gates and screens are often made from durable materials like wrought iron or steel.
Some basic fireplace gates and screens that we recommend include the following:
The GO Fireplace Screen 3 Panel Ornate Wrought Iron Black Metal Fireplace Standing Gate is available on Amazon. We like this one because it looks elegant even if you add no decorations. It comes in two sizes and is made from steel with a protective mesh material.
Next up- the Costzon Baby Safety Gate, 6-Panel Fireplace Fence. This is a simple fence-style gate that you can use to keep babies and pets in or out of a designated area. Use it to block off areas that are unsafe, like the front of your fireplace. Or turn it into a safe play yard for your baby when placed elsewhere in your home. It’s great if you still want to use your fireplace.
Decorative fireplace screen
WBHome 3 Panel Wrought Iron Fireplace Screen. This is a simple screen made from wrought iron that comes with some decorative features already in place. It offers a protective screen that you can add your own style to if desired.
Double Door Fireplace Screen
Double-Door Fireplace Screen. This is another fireplace gate style that allows you to open two doors to access the fireplace. It won’t stand as far away from the fireplace as some other gates listed here, so you shouldn’t leave children unattended near the fireplace. It will offer a protective screen to make the fireplace less interesting to pets and children.
DIY Fireplace Gates
The problem with purchasing a fireplace gate or screen is often the price tag. If you want to save some money or just enjoy making beautiful things for your home, there are some ways you can create a DIY fireplace gate. Here are some ideas for inspiration:
Use an outdoor gate- how to babyproof a fireplace
If you have a panel from an outdoor gate, you can turn it into a gate for your fireplace. Clean and sanitize all surfaces. Then apply spray paint or other decorative elements before placing it over the opening to your fireplace.
Use a picture frame to childproof your fireplace
Use a large decorative picture frame that will fit over the opening of your fireplace. A golden gilded picture frame will add automatic decorative style. Or you can use other decorative frames that you like or already have on hand. Use creative materials to fill the inside of the frame and simply place it over the opening to your fireplace. You can’t use the fireplace with this type of cover in place, but it can block the opening from curious kids and pets. Just keep in mind it’s not permanent or tightly secured when in place.
Make your own fireplace gate
If you have scrap wood lying around and can get your hands on some garden wire, you can make your own fireplace gate. It will look amazing with a farmhouse or other more casual home décor style. You will also need some paint to dress it up a bit. But you can choose your own colors and get creative with the style or keep it simple.
Look around your home to see what materials you have available right now. If it can fit over the opening of your fireplace or block off an area in front of it, then you may have a unique idea for creating an effective gate or screen. Just keep in mind that not all materials are safe when the fireplace is in use. Avoid using flammable materials if you get crafty on this one.
Ways to Childproof a Fireplace Hearth
What if you don’t want to block off your fireplace with a gate or screen? There are ways to keep the extended surface of your hearth functional while making it safe for children. Of course, this would come into play when you aren’t using the fireplace and have the opening blocked off so that your child cannot crawl inside.
The simplest and fastest option is to purchase fireplace hearth covers or a fireplace pad kit. They cover the hearth with softer material and can block the corners and edges that may harm a child who falls or stumbles nearby.
Some of our top recommended hearth covers include the following:
How to babyproof a fireplace with an edge protector kit
Cardinal Gates Kids Edge Large Fireplace Pad Kit. These pads serve as baby bumpers for fireplaces. They go around the edges of your hearth, blocking sharp edges and hard-edge surfaces. We like this brand because it comes in four color options and is the largest pad kit on the market. It attaches with double backed adhesive that is more secure than Velcro.
(This is actually the same stuff I use to babyproof the edge of my bedframe. OK, I’ll admit- I actually put it on long before I had kids for my own safety! I put it on 3 years ago and its held up just fine)
Padded hearth covers
Baby Safety Foam Soft Seat Edge Cushion. These padded fireplace hearth covers create a softer surface on top of the hearth as well as along the front edges. They’re great for turning your hearth into a seating area or a play area for the little ones. They’re available in two colors and three sizes.
Cost-effective foam guard to babyproof your fireplace
Safety 1st Foam Fireplace Guard. This is a great buy if you’re looking for cost-effective ways to babyproof a fireplace hearth. Safety 1st is known for making budget-friendly solutions for parents, and they offer a simple pad set that goes around the edges of the hearth. You can use this with top cushions for complete coverage. Or just use the pads as bumpers for edge and corner protection.
Fireplace seat edge cushion
Kidkusion Soft Seat Edge Cushion .This design covers the full flat surface of the hearth and hangs down in front for edge protection. It doesn’t wrap around the corners. But it’s perfect if you want to lay the cushion out at times then take it off quickly. There is a smaller version, so you can choose the size that fits your fireplace best.
Fun hearth covers to childproof your fireplace
If you don’t want to make your own hearth cover but also want something more playful and childlike, consider using interlocking floor mat tiles! This is a creative idea that you can personalize with your choice of mat color or pattern. The tiles sit on the top of a fireplace hearth and even interlock to hang down in front without using any adhesive. They’re also easy to take on and off as needed.
Here are our favorites, but you can find many more options on Amazon or through other online retailers:
- MQIAOHAM playmat Foam Play Tiles. For affordability and a classic neutral color scheme
- Foldable Baby Crawling Mat. For the one-piece design that will easily fold down along the front of the fireplace or double as a floormat when needed
- Hexagon Floor Mat Activity Mat Floor Foam Tile for the color design that does away with the square shapes
- Nicunom 25 Pieces Baby Play Mat with Fence– adorable animal shapes, black and white color pattern, and unique raised edges
DIY hearth cover to childproof your fireplace
We just gave you four style options for a store-bought hearth cover plus a creative store-bought idea, but what if you have a crafty side or just want to save money repurposing items you may already have at home?
It will require you to go all the way with a plywood base, foam cushioning, batting, and the fabric of your choice. But you can get step-by-step directions from Me & Reegs. This will take a lot of time and may cost as much if not more than purchasing cushioned hearth covers. However, it’s perfect for someone who loves to sew or complete larger home projects.
It’s also great if you want to pick fabric with a print or unique color. Sizing is customized to your fireplace as well. This design covers the top of the hearth plus the edges and front stone or brick pieces. It’s a more permanent attachment than the removable pad sets. So think about whether you will want to remove your hearth cover at times or prefer to leave it in place.
Fireplace Door Locks for Child Safety
If your fireplace has doors or you add a gate that has two doors, learning how to babyproof a fireplace includes adding child safety door locks. Once a baby starts to crawl, pull up on furniture, and walk, they get curious about everything. They will try to pull or shake a gate and fireplace doors may slide open if pushed or leaned on.
A durable fireplace door lock (click to view on Amazon) that you attach with basic hand tools is an inexpensive investment. However, you will need to remove the lock when you want to use the fireplace. This is a great option if you never use your fireplace and just want to lock it before adding cushions to the hearth. It’s also good if you only use your fireplace seasonally and want to keep it locked in the off season.
More fireplace door locks
If you use your fireplace often and need fireplace door locks that are easier and faster to put on and take off, try using babyproofing straps and latches that are designed for cabinets and other items in the home. Your choice here will depend on the type of handles on your fireplace doors. Here are some options that we recommend:
- WONDERKID Adjustable, Reusable Child Safety Locks. You can use these versatile childproofing latches on cabinets, appliances, and many types of doors.
- Kiscords Baby Safety Cabinet Locks for Knobs – This may work if your fireplace doors have knobs.
- Adoric Sliding Cabinet Locks – These are the simplest childproofing locks. They will loop around a wide variety of handles, holding doors closed securely without blocking adult access. You can use them all around your home, so it’s great that they come in a pack of four.
If you’re more the DIY type, look around your home for wire, cord, clips, and other simple item. They can easily hold doors closed when tied or otherwise fastened securely.
Related post: How to childproof your floor heaters
How to babyproof a fireplace with bumpers
We listed our top recommendations for fireplace hearth pads that serve as baby bumpers, but you have other options. If you just want to create a soft edge around the hearth, you could use a roll of Roving Cove Baby Proofing Edge Guard. It comes with tape and is heavy duty for a long lifespan. You can use it on tables and other furniture throughout your home, so the rolls are convenient. It’s available in three color options.
How to babyproof a fireplace with pool noodles
Finally, what if you could learn how to babyproof your fireplace with pool noodles? It’s a thing! You may even save a bit of money if you find the noodles at a dollar store or marked down at the end of summer.
The idea is to use the noodles to create soft baby bumpers. They’re perfect for fireplaces, coffee tables, and other pieces of furniture or even low shelves. Simply cut through one side of the noodle to create an opening or slit. Measure the length of the surface and cut the noodle into pieces of the right length. Spread the noodle open and place it around the edge, using an adhesive tape to secure in place.
You can also cut the noodle complete in half. Then, rest the inner edge over the edge of the fireplace, securing with adhesive. That works best for seat-like surfaces.
Related post: How to baby-proof baseboard heaters
More safety tips
- There are some additional safety tips that you should follow if you have a newborn or are expecting:
- Prior to bringing your new baby home, have a professional inspect your fireplace to ensure everything is functioning efficiently and safely. Make sure the check for adequate ventilation in your home. Fix any problems identified, no matter how small or expensive.
- Schedule routine maintenance visits for your fireplace at least once a year.
- Add a carbon monoxide detector to your home if you don’t already have one. Consider placing one in the location of the fireplace and another one near your baby’s nursery or sleeping area.
- If your baby has asthma or another respiratory condition, they may have a more severe reaction to smoke created by the fireplace. Keeping your baby away from the smoke will help, but you should stop using the fireplace and seek medical attention if you notice your baby coughing, wheezing, or struggling to breathe when the fireplace is lit.
- Create a fire escape plan for your home to ensure everyone knows how to get out safely with the baby if ever needed.
- Beyond ensuring the fireplace is working properly, burns and smoke inhalation are the biggest threats of injury for a baby. Newborns aren’t moving around the house yet, so you can avoid both by keeping your baby a safe distance from the fireplace.
Have Fun Learning How to Babyproof a Fireplace!
These ideas should get your brain moving if you want to create a custom fireplace babyproofing solution. Look at the babyproofing products you use for other areas of the home. Then, think about ways to make them work for your fireplace. Whether you buy it all in a store or customize every piece with your own hands, the goal is to have fun setting up for the baby.